Fiorentina-Milan Preview: The Breaking Point

Our toughest series of matches in this final half of the season starts Sunday at lunchtime with a trip to Firenze to meet La Viola. Despite being down, they are not out, and they would desperately like our third place spot. Also, they beat us 3-1 back in November at the San Siro, so they definitely know how to punish us. Will Milan pull out the win, whether by our own volition or by our infamous luck? Or will this match finally be our breaking point?

Can Pazzini punish the Purple People more this time?

After Galliani cunningly complained about the abnormalities of the season due to the Is Arena right as Fiorentina were facing Cagliari, only 3 points behind us, Fiorentina’s woes actually got worse. First, they did go to Is Arenas, after all, and they ended up losing and dropping three precious points. Then they lost Jovetic to injury and Gonzalo Rodriguez to suspension, too. Ouch. And, of course, Milan pulled off the win away to Chievo, so here they stand 6 points behind us and with out a couple of key players. Will this be their breaking point?

Don’t bet on it. After a season of alternatingly good and bad results, they are still in the hunt for Champions League qualification. And they won three games straight before their Cagliari loss, too. Keep in mind that their win against Milan in November featured an Aquilani goal against his former club, and also came without Jovetic, as well. Plus the advantage of playing at home. This match could be anybody’s breaking point.

Even doing the Robot, Montella has done a fantastic job at Fiorentina this year

Against Cagliari, the much watched (and Berlusconi coveted) Montella lined up Viviano; Gonzalo, Roncaglia, Savic, Pasqual; Pizarro, Aquilani, Migliaccio; Jovetic, Cuadrado, and Ljajic. Obviously he will be replacing Gonzalo and Jovetic, but he’s shown before that he can field a competitive team without his star players anyway. If Milan are going to take advantage of their missing players, we will have to significantly step up their game.

But of course, Milan have a not-so-secret ingredient we didn’t have in November in Super Mario. Well, that, and Allegri also stopped tinkering like a compulsive gambler with the lineups. Certainly, those are significant advantages to the team that failed to defend the San Siro in November. But on the flip side, we also have Montolivo. Despite him playing very well for us, and quite consistently, I might add, Fiorentina’s former captain is coming home for the first time to the fans who hate him for leaving them for Milan. Needless to say, the expected banners, whistles, and jeers, as well as the overall emotion for him could prove to upset his game.

Montolivo gave up his Fiorentina captaincy for
Champions League level play, but at what cost?

As for Allegri, he could have a mostly-full squad to choose from, including Constant and Niang back from their flu bouts and hopefully Pazzini back from his injury. It was Pazzini who pulled back one goal for us and ruined Viviano’s clean sheet back in November. But Allegri is undoubtedly going to start Balotelli and El Shaarawy up front. Who starts in that third spot will depend on fitness and whom Allegri trusts, too.

Our midfield is likely to consist of Montolivo, possibly Ambrosini, and one or two of our utilitarian-but-not-decisive midfielders. And the defense… well just when you think it’s predictable, Allegri has a lot of choices. Will Zapata and Constant get their starting spots back? It’s hard to say. I think we all pray that we won’t see Bonera again, or Antonini, for that matter. Most anyone else could do a decent job. And of course, Allegri would have to be crazy or Abbiati injured to start anyone else ahead of him.

Ljajic has shown he doesn't need to be slapped around to show his quality

This will be a tough match. They will want to close the six point gap we’ve managed to put between us, we are still chasing Napoli for that second place spot. They are missing their talisman in Jovetic, and we… well, we are still pretty lucky. Both teams are at crucial points in the season and both will fight to the final whistle for a result. This game could easily be either team’s breaking point.

This post inspired by the music of Jimi Hendrix

Fiorentina vs. Milan
Sunday, April 7 • 12:30 (6:30 EDT)
This match will be broadcast LIVE on RAI in the U.S.
(check comments for stream links prior to the game)

Fiorentina-Milan Preview: The Breaking Point Fiorentina-Milan Preview: The Breaking Point Reviewed by Elaine on 12:00 AM Rating: 5
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